Cooking with fire and smoke is not a new concept, but it is making a comeback as a preferred method with the advances in smokers and grills now available. It is possible to smoke meats, vegetable, fruits, and more year round in any climate. But, with so many options of smokers available, you might be wondering which one is right for you?
Masterbuilt is dedicated to all things smoking, frying, and electric grilling for both professional and home cooks. Masterbuilt Smokers include charcoal, propane, electric, and pellet models. The company has made smokers accessible by offering different styles of equipment at varying price points and sizes. Let’s take a look at the different types and models of Masterbuilt Smokers and the benefits of each so that you can make an informed decision.
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Masterbuilt Charcoal Smokers
Charcoal smokers use hot coals from either charred wood or briquettes with wood chips added. The method of cooking is called indirect smoking or grilling. You would not smoke directly over the hot coals, as this would cook your protein or produce too quickly. Charcoal smokers do require a bit of babysitting making sure the coals are replenished if needed and the temperature remains consistent. If you are not inclined to pay attention to the source of smoke, then charcoal might not be for you.
Masterbuilt’s charcoal smokers are called Bullet Smokers. The name comes from the cylindrical shape of the smoker with its domed top. The Charcoal Bullet Smoker is well suited for backyard grilling, tailgate parties, or car camping. These units only stand about 30 inches tall and approximately 21 inches in diameter. So, they will fit in the back of a hatchback, SUV, or truck. These smokers have a built-in temperature gauge and 2 porcelain-coated smoking racks.
The Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker will hold up to 4 whole chickens on two racks. The charcoal and wood chips sit in the bottom of the unit. A water/drip bowl sits above the heat source. The grill racks are layered above the bowl. The domed top seals in the smoke. It has a temperature gauge and a vent to keep an eye on the heat and smoke.
- Lightweight and portable
- Does not require electricity
- Temperature gauge
- Can hold enough food to feed 8 to 16 people
- Lacks bottom vents to help with air flow
- Requires attention to keep it at the correct temperature
- Bottom rack can only be accessed by removing top rack
Masterbuilt Propane Smokers
The Masterbuilt Propane Smokers are perfect for use on a patio or when travelling. Like the charcoal smokers, these do not require electricity. They do, however, require that you have a full tank of propane as the heat source. Propane is cleaner than charcoal and requires less attention to the smoking process.
What is nice about the Masterbuilt line of propane smokers, of which there are 7 to choose from, is that they are offered in a variety of sizes, styles, and price points to meet your individual needs.
Portable Propane Smokers
The Masterbuilt MB20050116 MPS 20B Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker is perfect for smoking at home or on-the-go. All you need to do is light the burner easily with push button ignition. Both have built-in temperature gauges and two racks that can hold 2 pork shoulders. The legs fold for easy transport. Both units use smaller, portable propane canisters. They are approximately 23 x 23 inches.
- Temperature gauge
- Holds temperature
- Does not require electricity or coals
- Not insulated
- Requires opening the full door to check flame
ThermoTemp Propane Smokers
The Masterbuilt MB20051316 Mps 340g XL Propane Smoker, at 40 inches tall, can hold 4 turkeys. It has 4 chrome-coated racks, two access doors, and glass viewing panels in the upper doors. This propane smoker don’t require any monitoring or adjusting of the temperature. The ThermoTemp innovation lets you set the temperature and go about your day. There is a safety shut-off valve for the gas, as well as a fuel level gauge.
- Front door access to all racks
- No electricity or coals needed
- Instant light
- Temperature gauge
- Tank fuel gauge
- ThermoTemp technology automatically adjusts the flame
- Safety shut-off valve
- Not all units are insulated
- Glass viewing panels can become discolored with smoke
- Need to remember to fill your propane tank
- Lava rocks recommended by many users, not included with smoker
Masterbuilt Electric Smokers
Masterbuilt really shines when it comes to electric smokers. They have an impressive collection of 8 units. There are 2 categories of electric smokers, analog and digital. The difference in price between analog and digital isn’t significant. So, for my money, digital is the way to go with an electric smoker, as it is state-of-the-art technology. Analog is fairly basic and there are few options. For the purpose of this guide, we will focus on the digital electric smokers offered by Masterbuilt.
While the portability of the charcoal and propane smokers can be appealing, especially if you are one who runs the BBQ competition circuit or you cater outdoor parties, a digital electric smoker is perfect for the backyard chef who loves to smoke in the comfort of home. There are smaller Masterbuilt Electric Smokers that are portable and analog. Those are a good option for the RV enthusiast who has a site with an electrical power connection.
Bluetooth Enabled Digital Electric Smokers
The Masterbuilt MB20073519 MES 130P Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker, 30-Inch and the Masterbuilt MB20074719 Mes 140g Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker, 40-Inch Bluetooth Smart Digital Electric Smokers are the best Masterbuilt has to offer. The MB20073519 MES 130P, at 30 inches tall, can hold up to 4 racks of ribs. The MB20074719 Mes 140g, at 40 inches tall, can hold up to 8 racks of ribs. Both make smoking simple and smart. Your Smartphone becomes a remote control with integrated Bluetooth Smart technology. You can power on and off, monitor and control cooking temperature and time, operate the internal light, and check the internal meat temperature with the smart meat probe remotely. The side wood chip drawer enables you to add wood chips without opening the smoker door. The doors have large glass viewing panels. There are 4 chrome-coated racks in each.
- Does not rely on a fuel source, just plugs in
- Most units are insulated
- Digital technology makes for easy operation
- Bluetooth compatibility make it easy to monitor and control the units from a distance
- Front door access to all racks
- Temperature gauge with consistent heat
- Meat probe thermometers
- Wheeled base
- You must have an electrical outlet nearby
- Glass viewing panels can become discolored with smoke and need cleaning
- Electrical components may need to be maintained or replaced over time
- Users recommend purchasing a cover to preserve exterior finish
- Some users found the chip drawers to be small, requiring a refill every 45 to 60 minutes
While I always enjoyed smoking over charcoal when it was the only option available to me, I must admit that I do not always have the patience to monitor the fire and the temperature. Given the time, indirect smoking over a flame is truly awesome in terms of flavor. I have had a few mishaps where the protein or produce either cooks too quickly or takes too long when the coals die down because I got a little lazy and didn’t pay enough attention. The Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker makes this a little easier the way the unit is designed.
I do like gas fired grills and smokers. However, I admit to being a little lax in checking the amount of fuel in the tank. I have fired up the grill, thinking the tank was full, only to discover that the flame died 20 minutes in. If you are an organized human with a to-do reminder list, propane is fine for your needs. No need to rely on an electrical outlet and great for being away from home with the portable units. Masterbuilt MB20051316 Mps 340g XL Propane Smoker is a very good choice in this category. It has received top feedback because of the great price and the 2 door access.
I am a fan of the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smokers because they are so easy to use and generally hold a consistent temperature. Like everything that relies on technology/electricity, these smokers are not immune to component failures over time. It makes sense cover the unit or store it in a garage or shed when not in use so that the controls do not succumb to prolonged exposure to the elements. I do like that many of the electric smokers are insulated to avoid temperature fluctuations in either very cold or extremely hot weather. The popular pick in this category is the Masterbuilt MB20073519 MES 130P Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker, 30-Inch at 30 inches tall. It is very well priced and perfect for the backyard cook. It has all the functions you need.
An important thing to mention is that you will likely have to assemble all of these smokers unless you purchase a pre-assembled display model. Also, when comparing online, the model numbers may appear differently than what is listed here or on the MB website. There are many models still for sale that Masterbuilt either stopped manufacturing, or upgraded slightly and reassigned a new number.
Embrace smoking with a Masterbuilt Smoker and enjoy.